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A NEON GENESIS EVANGELION fanfic.
Rights belonging to GAINAX and AD Vision.
Used without permission.

HERZ
by EeL (Toh Ee Loong)

Part IX: THEY THAT OVERCOMETH/I WILL

   Hyuuga entered Misato's cavernous office. He was slightly surprised
to see that the Commander of HERZ was not seated her usual place. 
Instead she was standing at the far end of her office, arms behind her
back and gazing out at the Geo-Front. Its trees lush and green, the 
artificial lake glimmering from the sunlight that streamed down from 
the heavens, through the hole above. The JSSDF's use of an N2 mine in
2015 to punch through the rock and armour plates directly above the 
pyramidal HERZ structure had the result of putting Headquarters within
a column of light during the daytime.

   "It's beautiful, isn't it?" said Misato softly. She did not turn 
back to face him.

   "Well, I'm afraid the world situation isn't as rosy."

   "Hmmm."

   "Two new hotspots that the UN might want us to intervene in. First,
the Syrians have just completed a new intermediate missile system and 
will be deploying it with bio-chemical warheads. Of course, they'll be
pointing it at Israel. Israeli intelligence got wind of it and they're
threatening massive nuclear retaliation if they're attacked. There's
talk that the Israelis might resort to a pre-emptive conventional
bombing strike to take out the Syrian missiles. Things are tense. A
little clash on the border or another terrorist incident could send
the entire Middle East up in a mushroom cloud.

   "Second, the Russians and the Ukrainians have had another blow up
over the Black Sea Fleet and control over the Crimean peninsula 
especially over the city of Sevastopol. Apparently the latest deal
fell through after it was rejected by the Russian Duma. Both sides
have moved troops to the area. Could turn ugly. The Black Sea Fleet
is armed with nuclear weapons including ICBMs. I get the feeling that
the UN International Peacekeeping Force would prefer to see it out of
action permanently. Like a repeat of Cpt Ikari's spirited performance
in Krasnoyrask."

   "Inform Col Gessler and Cpt Ikari to make plans for use of Eva Units
05-Bravo and Charlie for the Middle East and Units 05-Delta and Echo 
for the Black Sea," instructed Misato.

   "That just leaves us with Unit-00 (II) and Unit 01 to protect us
against SEELE."

   "Don't forget our trump. The Second Project. Dr Ibuki is already
putting the final touches on it, in addition to Ritsuko is helping her
to beef up the MAGI's defences."

   "Will it be enough?"

   "It will have to do."

   "Yes, Ma'am. Ano, Katsuragi-shirei, are you alright?"

   Misato turned her head towards him. Smiling softly, she nodded.
Hyuuga smiled back and exited the office. Misato slowly unclenched
her left fist. In it was a small piece of paper. It had appeared in 
her home within a small capsule.

   "The truth is with you. Don't hesitate. Move ahead!
    And don't be late."  

***

   Misato made sure she wasn't followed. 'It's been twelve years since
I was last here. Since I...' 

   The light of the setting sun was a deep orange. All around her was
shadow. Thrown by the wire grilles. A moving light and darkness. The
constant swirl of a huge ventilator fan. Then she saw him. Leaning 
against the wall next to the outlet.

   "You're a little late, aren't you?" He was clean shaven this time.
The ponytail was gone as well.

   Her eyes widened.

   "I...I killed you." Misato was an excellent shot and she knew it.
It had been supposed to have gone right through his heart. There was
no way he could have survived. She was so sure. It had taken all her
willpower and discipline to pull it off. When the round struck home
and he slumped onto the ground, she had turned around and walked away. 
Although her motions seemed calm and professional at the time, she was
running away, unable to face the reality of what she had done. She had
a nagging feeling that he hadn't been surprised. Not one bit. But she
was sure she had done the job required. And that had been her reality
for these past twelve years.

   He smiled. Faintly playful and mischievous. Enigmatic. A hint that
he knew more than he was letting on. It was pure Kaji. "Bullet proof 
vest. The best at the time. Light, effective and easily concealed. Even
then at this close range, your 9mm still grazed a rib. Ouch." 

   "I'll remember to shoot you in the face next time."

   "Ah, still as feisty as ever. And even more beautiful."

   "Cut the crap. Who do you work for? SEELE?" She had regained some
of her composure but the shock of the revelation and her feelings 
warred inside her.

   "No. I don't work for anyone anymore. But until recently I was in
the employ of the people who bankrolled your secret HERZ projects. They
are called GEIST. Had the rather interesting job designation of Ptah.
But now I have completed my last job and have been released from their
service. We heard that you had sent your bloodhound onto our scent."

   "Does Kagero Kurumi work for you too?"

   "No. But we keep an eye on her as well. For various reasons. But
though her enquiries about your 'extra' money were subtle, we still
managed to detect and trace them. So I decided to come and talk to
you. There is much you must want to know. Especially about who saved
your life back in 2015."

   "Saved my life?"

   "You were shot shielding Shinji from the JSSDF. But yet you woke 
up in hospital, weak from blood loss but alive? Haven't you ever 
wondered?"

   Misato nodded.

   "Those were early days for GEIST. They had been buying Angel DNA 
and other materials from Commander Ikari for scientific and commercial
development. Ikari needed the funds and they needed the technology. 
When they found out about SEELE's plans, they used a prototype Eighth
Generation Super-Computer called YGGDRASIL to attack the subsidiary
MAGI systems besieging NERV's MAGI, as well as the systems controlling
five of the nine Eva-05 series. 

   A small team arrived at the Geo-Front when news of the JSSDF attack
reached us. We arrived just after you had been shot. Brig-Gen Waltz, 
known as Seth, took care of the JSSDF assault team that were after you
and Shinji. You won't believe it but we saw Rei standing over you. Then
she just vanished. Dr Walzer, called Osiris, got down to treating you
for your injuries but it seems that the damage was not as bad as one
would expect from a round from an automatic rifle. A miracle of sorts."

   "Damned, just what in heavens IS Rei?" she exclaimed. Rei was
important to what Shinji was planning but Misato tried not to think 
too much, mainly concentrating on her role and what she was good at - 
operations and organization. The extent to which Rei's power had grown
after that day in 2015 had frightened her but she had no idea, no idea
at all of what Rei's limits were. She quashed her doubts and her 
questions. Shinji knew what he was doing and she placed her trust in
him to do the right thing. 

   "I'd like to find out myself."

   Unbidden, the words stirred up old memories. 

   "Are you using me again?" Her voice was hard, cold. But yet it was
had a brittle edge. Threatening to crumble under the strain of internal
stresses. She slapped away his hand as he reached out to her.

   "You used me! You used me all along! You made me think I killed you
and you used me all these years! All these years! Playing your little 
games! Now you're using me again!"      

   "You used me." His answer was calm, cool, collected. But his smile
softened. It lost its veiled mockery. A slight melancholy. 'Oh, I 
still know him so well.' 

   "I had to. I had no choice." Her words were barely a whisper now. 
Having just poured forth her anger, she felt... hollow. Empty. "I had
no choice... no choice at all." She clasped her face with one hand. And
pushed away his hand as he reached out gently again.

   "We always have choices. Even if we don't recognize them," he said
quietly.

   "Kaji... why? Why did things have to turn out like this? We were
supposed to be..." No more words were needed. Both drank from the well
of their memories. It ran deep into their selves. The taste of regret.
Of the lost years. Lost chances. When things were simpler. The memories
felt as old as the earth and yet as fresh as the morning dew. 

   "I was a fool." The smile faded a little. It was ironic now. But 
directed against himself. "I was always such a fool."

   "I...I ran away. From being with you. From being a woman," she had
gotten herself drunk to find the courage to confess those things to
him twelve years ago. "I'm the fool. And I've become a monster." She
looked down, unable to face him.

   "You made hard choices. And you had your responsibilities."

   "So much blood, Kaji. I have so much blood on my hands." Negev. 
Tricking the Israelis into stealing bogus S2 engine specifications.
When they used it to activate their Eva, everything within 50km was
obliterated. The Army of God. She had given no quarter and made sure
their leader met his end at SEELE's hands. Blackmailing the Chinese
and then summarily nuked all the other military sites that were 
building their own Evas. They had no warning. No chance. She looked
up almost earnestly. Having confessed her sins, she sought absolution
in the man she had been forced to betray.  

   His smile was sad and warm. He touched the crook of her arm. She did
not pull away. "But you knew had to," he said as his fingers traced 
their way down her forearm. "You had a reason."
  
   "Everything I did, I did it for Shinji. I wanted to... I needed to
see him grow up. To have a family. A chance to be happy. I needed 
that... I told Ritsuko that the tragedy of the Eva Project was its
people. The human ruin and misery it left behind. And we are part of
that legacy but it wasn't too late for him," she said softly, 
remembering all the lifes that the Project had trodden underfoot. All 
the lives it had nearly extinguished forever.

   "And yet, if man can be selfless, it need not end this way."(*)
   
   She allowed him to take her hand. His touch felt familiar. Safe. 
With just a tiny tingling spark. She wondered at how much they had
changed. How much they had not changed. It was there all along. She had
just never allowed herself to understand it or to embrace it.

   "Have you found peace?"

   "I no longer worry about the phone that does not ring...because I 
have accepted your heart."

   "And now?"

   "You promised you would say the words. The words that you could not
say twenty years ago."

   
   "I love you."

   In the dying light, they embraced.

***

   A Few Days Later.

   Shinji stood in the depths of Terminal Dogma, before a huge door.
Above the card slot and numeric keypad that were the locks to Heaven's
Door was the bland label of 'LCL PLANT'. He carried a small wreath.

   "I knew you were following me," he said without turning around. The
cold metal of a gun barrel now pressed against the back of his neck. 
His own weapon was quickly removed from its holster.

   "There are only three people who come here regularly. Katsuragi 
Misato, Ayanami Rei and yourself. And you always come here on this
particular day, every year. Without fail. Why?"

   "You were always impulsive, Kurumi."

   "Answer the question!"

   "On this day, twelve years ago, I killed someone. Here. He was our
enemy. But he was my friend. At that time, I felt that he was the only
friend I had in the whole world. And I killed him."

   "The Fifth Child. The Seventeenth Angel."

   "Yes. Now please put that gun away."

   "Not until you open up this door."

   "Why?"

   "I want to see Lilith for myself. I want to know why there is so
much secrecy in this place. I want to know what HERZ is really up to."

   "Alright." Shinji tapped the armoured door lightly three times. 
There was a tremendous groaning of machinery as Heaven's Door opened.
He walked towards a lake of orange fluid. Casting the wreath into the
LCL, Shinji bowed his head in silence for a minute. When he finished,
he turned back towards Kurumi.

   She was looking at the huge red cross that rose out of the LCL.
There was nothing on it. 

   "What happened to Lilith?"

   "Ikari-kun."

   Kurumi started and trained her weapon on the source of the voice.
The young woman had appeared out of nowhere. She had pale skin, blue
hair and red eyes. She wore a white sundress and sandals. The 
remarkable resemblance to Ikari Yui. All the time she had been with 
HERZ, she had heard rumours about the elusive Ayanami Rei. She was a 
fleeting yet constant presence. Vague rumours about a co-worker having
seen a glimpse of her around the corner. The whispers about her 
relationship with the Ikari family. Her face on Ikari Akiko. Everyone 
knew about her but knew nothing about her. Kurumi knew her. She
remembered her well.

   "Ayanami," acknowledged Shinji, breaking Kurumi out of her trance.
Rei began to walk towards them.

   "Hold it right there!" shouted Kurumi, keep her aim trained on Rei.
"Don't come any closer! I want some answers!"

   Rei ignored her and continued walking towards them.

   "I mean it!"

   Rei continued to ignore the threat. Kurumi fired. Rei lifted her
hand in response. An orange hexagonal field flashed before her and
the warning shot deflected off uselessly. 'An A.T. Field!' thought
Kurumi.

   "Ayanami! It's alright. Please don't hurt her," said Shinji who
jumped to Kurumi's side. Rei nodded. 

   "SEELE is putting its plans into motion. They are beginning their
plan to retrieve the Lance. We must act now."

   "I understand," said Shinji. Turning to a visibly shaken Kurumi,
he took hold of her hands. "Kurumi, I have to go now. I promise that
I'll explain everything once this is all over."

   Kurumi nodded numbly and followed the First and Third Children out
of Terminal Dogma.

***

   In SEELE's council chambers, twelve black monoliths surrounded an
image of a dozen rocket-propelled space craft reaching the moon. They
latched onto the floating Lance of Longinus and began firing rockets
that would eventually guide it back to Earth.

SEELE 07: Soon the Lance will be back in our hands. Our resources have
already been placed in the Pacific Ocean to retrieve it once it returns
to Earth.

SEELE 03: The Americans have taken our bait. They think that GEIST is
responsible for their recent grief. It is only a matter of time before
they move to take care of GEIST and their computer YGGDRASIL. This time
they will not be able to interfere. With our own Eighth Generation super
-computer and the Eva-06 series, we will seize HERZ. 

SEELE 10: We have already set events in motion to draw HERZ's other
Evas away from Tokyo-3. Adam, Lilith and Unit 01 will then be ours.
Instrumentality will finally be achieved.

SEELE 01: What...What is happening?

   The image of the retrieval operation showed the Lance of Longinus
flipping a 180 degrees despite the efforts of the attached rockets.
Its double prongs now pointed towards Earth.

SEELE 06: Readings are going off the scale. This is not possible!

   The Lance's double prongs twisted and merged together to form
a single pointed spear. Without warning, it shot towards to the earth.
The image broke into static as the sheer speed of the Lance ripped off
some of the grapples securing the SEELE rockets to it. All of the 
retrieval equipment was hopelessly damaged. Those that still managed to
hold peeled off during re-entry as the friction with the atmosphere far
exceeded their original design specifications.

   The members of SEELE were thrown into utter confusion. Voices 
sounded simultaneously through the chamber. A torrent of sound and
fury, signifying nothing except their impotence.

   Unknown to SEELE, a huge purple cross of light and energy erupted
from the hills around Tokyo-3 as the reddish blur that was the Lance
of Longinus streaked towards it.

***

   The entry plug. The throne of the soul. The womb. Two figures. One
in a blue and white plugsuit and another in a predominantly white one.
Shinji had a determined look on his face as he held Eva Unit 01's 
controls. Rei had a hand on his shoulder. She smiled softly.

   The Evangelion continued its descent into Terminal Dogma, the Lance
of Longinus grasped in its right hand.  


END OF PART IX

NOTES:
(*) Perhaps what I regard as the key phrase in EVA:R.

The Kaji/Misato scene has benefited from pointed c&c from Joyce 
Wakabayashi. Many thanks. Any botched characterization and other 
faults are, of course, entirely my own responsibility.

Ver 1.1 - 25 Apr 1999 
Ver 1.3 -  1 May 1999
Ver 2.0 - 25 Jun 1999

contact: toheel@singnet.com.sg or teloong@cwcom.net
archive: http://www.teloong.mcmail.com/